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2010 June 28 - 12:00 am

TRACKING TRENDS: Group Seeks To Unify Wyoming College Credit System

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A broad-based education group is working to bring uniformity to the college credits that Wyoming high schoolers can earn.

The group consists of some 35 state and local educators, lawmakers, school administrators, and parent and student representatives. They met to begin fashioning proposed guidelines that seek to make college credit more accessible and equitable to high school students across the state.

“In other words, that the students are getting the same experience to the extent possible,” Rollin Abernethy, chairman of the Wyoming P-16 Education Council, which is coordinating the group’s work.

Currently, Wyoming’s seven community colleges have separate agreements with high schools around the state to provide classes that count for college credits. As a result, there’s disparity among high schools in the quality and accessibility of college credits that students can earn.

The college courses can be presented to high school students in two ways: on a college campus or outreach site and taught by a college instructor, or taught by a high school teacher who has been approved by a community college.

However, different colleges may have different requirements for high school teachers, and students in small, rural high schools may not have the same access to courses if they are far from a community college campus. In addition, how the costs of the college credit program are covered and how to measure the success of the programs vary across the state.

The state Legislature passed a law this winter assigning the Wyoming Community College Commission with the task of bringing consensus to the process among the schools and colleges.

The education group was formed to look at the issue and make recommendations to the Legislature.

“One of the charges that we have that came from the legislation is to provide that opportunity statewide for, I guess you could say, every high school,” Abernethy said. “Certainly it’s equitable access to the state educational opportunities that’s in the state constitution.”

Another separate issue the Legislature asked the group to study is whether more weight in terms of grade point averages should be given to high school students who take advanced high school classes. Some contend that a student who gets a B grade in a more-challenging advanced placement math class is penalized because that same student could have received an A grade in the less-challenging general math class.

The distinction is important when it comes to apply for colleges, especially in Wyoming, where the new Hathaway college scholarship program is based on high school performance.

The group plans to have its report ready for the Legislature by next year.

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